Boston Marathon bombing survivors Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes '05, and Boston College Strong Scholarship recipient Jack Manning '20, take media questions following the award ceremony on October 23.

Photos by Lee Pellegrini

Boston Marathon bombing survivors Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky awarded the first scholarship from a fund created in their honor by Downes’ Boston College classmates to sophomore Jack Manning at a ceremony on campus on October 23.

Married just seven months, Downes and Kensky were gravely injured by the bombs that exploded near the Marathon finish line on Boylston Street in 2013. Both lost a leg as a result of the injuries. Kensky would lose her remaining leg to amputation a year-and-a-half later.

BC Strong Scholarship honors Marathon bombings survivors: Boston Globe | AP via New York Times | Metro Boston | Fox 25 Boston | WBZ-TV Boston | NBC Boston | WCVB-TV News | NBC Early Today | NECN

Jess Kensky and Patrick Downes '05
Patrick Downes '05 congratulates scholarship recipient Jack Manning '20.

Downes’ many friends from the BC Class of 2005 responded by raising money for a scholarship to honor them for their courageous example. Thus far, nearly 1,000 supporters have raised close to $400,000.

Manning, a student in the Carroll School of Management, lost his leg to cancer at age 10. He volunteers at Children’s Hospital in Boston to support and mentor young cancer patients who face the prospect of losing limbs. Through the scholarship, he will receive financial support that will help cover his four years of study at Boston College.

“Jess and I were thrilled when we heard about Jack and his story of perseverance in the face of adversity,” said Downes. “He is exactly the type of student we want to acknowledge and celebrate.”

Added Kensky, “Patrick and I have been given so much. We want to shine the light on someone else whose experience was just as excruciating, but who has not received the attention and national outpouring of love and support that we have.  As we learn more about Jack, we discover that he is already a person who gives back, as evidenced by his mentoring of young kids facing the challenge of cancer. He is a remarkable young man.”

Jessica Kensky, Patrick Downes and Jack Manning
'Patrick and Jessica are amazing people; I have loved getting to know them and consider them good friends already,' said Manning.

Manning was diagnosed with osteosarcoma when he was eight years old, and endured months of chemotherapy before being told that he would lose his left leg to the illness. Doctors performed a procedure called rotationplasty, whereby a surgeon removed his cancerous tumor along with a section of his leg around the knee before reattaching the lower part of his leg, backwards, to his thigh.

Undaunted, he went on to play football and baseball at Roxbury Latin School, while actively serving as a role model for young cancer patients and their families. He has participated in the Pan Mass Challenge both as a volunteer and rider, twice completing the 192-mile race and raising more than $135,000 for cancer research.   At BC, he maintains a 3.75 GPA while working 12 hours per week in Hillside Dining Hall.   

"I am honored and grateful to be the first recipient of the Boston College Strong Scholarship," said Manning. "Patrick and Jessica are amazing people; I have loved getting to know them and consider them good friends already. I am proud to be considered 'BC Strong,' and will do my best to honor Patrick and Jessica, all of their friends, and, of course, Boston College."

The ceremony took place on the plaza in front of O’Neill Library near a recently installed handicap accessible ramp. It was chosen by Downes as a sign of BC's commitment to accessibility for all. The University has agreed to host the scholarship ceremony each year near newly constructed accessibility features in support of Downes and Kensky and the wider mission of the BC Strong scholarship.

—Jack Dunn | University Communications